The Brooklyn Nets were the kings of NBA free agency yesterday with the signings of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. They also added DeAndre Jordan to improve their center position. The Nets already had a good nucleus with Spencer Dinwiddie and Caris LeVert. No KD this coming season but still formidable. The move to upgrade the middle was a direct approach to combat the Sixers who dominated them with Joel Embiid.
The Sixers came in second to the Brooklyn with 3 moves of their own. The signing of Tobias Harris, Mike Scott and Al Horford redefines the Sixers. The Sixers have a quality back up for Embiid and a power forward with Horford. They lost JJ Reddick and Jimmy Butler unfortunately. The Butler lost stings because he is a great player that delivers in the clutch and on both ends. Bringing Josh Richardson to Philly as part of the sign and trade of Butler does soften the lost. It brings depth to the guard position. Philly still needs some outside shooting help or an improved Ben Simmons from the perimeter. If they could bring in Danny Green, he could do that for them. His asking price may not fit the salary cap number.
Utah comes in third with the signing of Bojan Bogdanovic and Ed Davis. Add the acquisition of Mike Conley and you have additional offensive weapons along with Donavan Mitchell. The defense was already outstanding. They move ahead of OKC and closer to the Denver Nuggets.
Boston comes in fourth with the sign and trade acquisition of Kemba Walker. Kemba coming to the Celtics minimizes Kyrie’s exit. Terry Rozier was not happy with how he was utilized so a fresh start in Charlotte is good for him. Boston will share the ball more with Kemba and he is more durable than Irving. The coaching philosophy of Brad Stevens will make this work. They will resemble a European team with no traditional center. Gordon Haywood will improve being a year removed from a devastating injury.
The Knicks top my list of losers. So much money to spend and not signing one top tier player. Julius Randle and Bobby Portis are good players but not franchise altering. Houston wanted Jimmy Butler but came away with nothing. The off season grumbling, and the ball dominance of James Harden makes this a toxic situation.
The team that does not sign Kawhi Leonard is also part of the free agency losers list. The Lakers, Clippers and Raptors are all in the running. The Lakers have the most to lose with having no assets or bench to speak of. If they sign Kawhi, they will have a team of NBA minimum contract player as a bench. The lure of a championship will make you play for less. DeMarcus Cousins is out there so that could help a team that does not get Leonard.